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hudsons 

hundredth 

1881-1981 



— 










hudsoris 

hundredth 

1881-1981 



Joseph L. Hudson, Jr. 
Chairman 


Dear Friends: 


It Isn't often that a store can boast a 
legacy of one hundred years of service to 
several generations of customers, Our Centen- 
nial in 1981 is an accomplishment of which we 
are deeply proud. 

Our continuing success over these ten 
decades ho$ been measured by dedicated 
employees, faithful customers, dependable 
suppliers and a reputation for credibility. 

i am sure that when my great uncle, 

Joseph Lowthlan Hudson, opened his small 
Detroit store in 1881 he never dreamed that his 
innovative merchandising ideas and commun- 
ity philanthropy would endure into a second 
century and expand Into nineteen "Hudson's" 
located throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. 

All of us at The J.L, Hudson Company owe 
much to our founder's leadership, determina- 
tion and foresight. His doctrines of integrity and 
civic Involvement are as important to our 
organization today as they were in his era, 

As we begin our second hundred years, we 
are excited about what the future holds for 
our dynamic company, Please join us in our 
celebration of this milestone, 

Sincerely, 


Joseph Lowthion Hudson, 
founder 



C)ne hundred years, A mere ten decodes, A 
fleeting moment In the vest scheme of things. 

A time to see the world change Immeasurably, 
One hundred years ago. The J.L Hudson Co. 
was conceived as but a dream for a young 
man with incredible foresight, Imagine what 
Joseph Lowthlan Hudson must have perceived 



In Detroit In 


Joseph L, Hudson opened his first 
store in the Detroit Opera House 
on the Campus Martius In 1861, 


With 20 years of working experience 
already behind him, and a remarkable 
$60,000 saved from his labors, Joseph L 
Hudson opened a small men's and boys' 
haberdashery on April 2. 1681 In the old Detroit 
Opero House, He was 36 years old. Not one, 
but three band concerts entertained the 
opening day customers, and statements of 



“Not o dollar's worth of old stock" were cer- 
tainly a challenge to his neighboring com- 
petitors, In just ten years, he achieved such 
success that Hudson was able to build whot he 
called the “Big Store", on eight-story full-line 
extravaganza on the corner of Gratiot and 
Farmer Street (part of the present site of our 
Downtown store). 



Hudson's grand opening announcement 
from the Detroit Free Press, April 1 1861 


J.L. Hudson built his first “Big Store" 

at the corner of Former and Gratiot In 1891, 



T his was the second tallest building in Detroit 
and considered to be "too far uptown" for the 
200,000 Detroiters to reach. But come they 
did, In everything from private carriages to 
bicycles. To J.L. Hudson, It was the culmination 
of everything for which he had worked so 
hard, Quality merchandise, large assortments 



and service were his standards. It Is interesting 
to point out that he was one of the first mer- 
chants to indicate prices on his goods. Up to 
this time, dealer and customer would each 
name his price until a compromise could be 
reached. He established a comparison depart- 
ment and even had a horse-drawn delivery 
truck make the rounds of Detroit, While these 
seem like small points to us now, it was steps 
like these that made The J,L Hudson Co. so 
popular and successful, 



1$85: View of Campus Martlus, with 

The J.L. Hudson Co. In the Detroit Opera House 


Unfortunately, the 1890's were troublesome 
years. Banks were closing everywhere and 
Hudson himself suffered a great personal loss 
trying to save them. The retailer even cut his 
own salary to that of a delivery wagon driver. 
During these difficult years, Hudson was forced 
to ask for an extension of credit from his sup- 
pliers. This was something he hadn't had to do 
since his father's retail business went into 
bankruptcy 20 years before in Ionia, Michigan. 
At that time young Joe Hudson made settle- 
ment of the debts at 60 cents on the dollar. 
But the young merchant was not satisfied 
simply to comply with the legal terms of the 


settlement. When he was able, Hudson not only 
paid everyone the other 40 cents on the 
dollar, but also the compounded interest due 
them, This made business history, assuring Hud- 
son an unlimited letter of credit for the rest of 
his life, Now in 1896, when his business 
needed credit, he was extended everything 
that was requested and more, 



1891: Hudson's new 8 story Sig Store as seen from 
the corner of Grand River and Farmer. 

Although the company's sales did not grow 
during- the 1890's, Hudson was not one to be 
discouraged. He continued to expand, As soon 
as conditions Improved, an eight story addition 
Just north of his original “Big Store" was built In 
1907, Four years later In October of 1911, 
another ten story addition on the Woodward 
Avenue side of the black was erected, 



in 1911, the original store was enlarged to include 
the first unit of the present Woodward Ave. building. 



In July of 1912, on his first trip home to his birth- 
place In England, J.L Hudson died. He left a 
remarkable business legacy behind, but was 
probably most remembered at the time for his 
personal generosity and civic mindedness, A 
self-demanding businessman, he gave thou- 
sands of dollars to charity. His response to the 
needy was as instant as It was generous. Of 
special Importance, the merchant helped 
blaze the trail for what we know today as the 
United Foundation, He also contributed per- 
sonal time and financial support to Harper 
Hospital and helped to build the Downtown 
YMCA. 


WEBBER BROTHERS CARRY ON 


Sin 


>ince J.L. Hudson never married, he looked to 
his sister, Mary Eleanor Webber, for prospective 
successors to his business. He started early 
grooming of her sons, Richard, twins Joseph 
and James, and Oscar to carry on the family 
tradition. At the time of Hudson's death, 

Richard, the oldest, had been working with his 
uncle as a full-time assistant for 14 years, begin- 
ning when he was 19 years old, in turn, each of 
the brothers was indoctrinated in their uncle's 
merchandising philosophy and given more and 
more responsibility. When, In 1912, they were 
suddenly faced with the full responsibility of 
running the business, they had, among them, 
performed every job in the store. The heirs had 
confidence, competence and energy to build 
for the future, Detroit was now a rapidly 
growing city. Two fifths of the population look' 
ed to the automotive Industry for jobs, The 


assembly lines af Detroit were producing 
engines, machine tools, car bodies and wheels 
In great abundance, Skyscrapers dotted the 
downtown scene. The economic climate for 
progress appeared favorable. When In 1914, 
Henry Ford announced his $5 a day minimum 
wage policy, the Webbers realized Detroit 
would become a dynamic, industrial hub, not 

tenrifli ill thtnir unrle hnH known 


Mr. Hudson's four nephews, the Webber brothers, 
took over the company at the time of his death 
in 1912, Here, a rare photo commemorating their 
combined service to the company of 205 years 
taken in the 1950 J s, Left to right, Oscar, 

Richard, Joseph and James, 

T he brothers responded by putting all their 
energies Into creating a strong foundation for 
the emerging retail giant. Oscar, the youngest 
of the brothers, came up with the Idea of a 
basement store,, “a store within a store", which 
would actually become the upstairs store's big- 
gest competitor. Its first year's sales In 1914 
reached almost a million dollars, 


wagon to this handsome group in the early 20's, 




Hudson's fleet of delivery trucks 
grew from Its first horse-drawn 


The Webbers kept expanding the building 
and didn't stop until 1928 when Hudson's "Big 
Store" had become the Greater Hudson Store. 
It covered almost an entire city block. When 
the Depression of the 30's hit Detroit and the 
sales volume dropped to less than half Its 1929 
peak, the brothers wondered If they hadn't 
overbuilt, 


While the Depression affected every 
business In Detroit, The J,L Hudson Co. 
persevered, utilizing this period for the develop- 
ment of new Ideas and concepts which would 
serve the store well In the better times ahead, 

In the tradition of the founder, the company 
had already taken some novel steps in forming 
its ties with the community, On Armistice Day In 
1923, the J,L, Hudson Co. saluted the veterans 
of Detroit by unfurling the world's largest flag. 
An Incredible 230 feet long and weighing 900 
pounds, It was the first of two huge flags to 
grace the store annually until Its retirement to 
the Smithsonian Institute in 1976. 



1927: Hudson's 
mode a big step 
In buying the 
Newcomb- 
Endlcott Co. on 
the corner, Later 
this building was 
demolished and 
replaced by a 
16-story addition 
with a tower 
reaching 24 
stories. 



Hudson's big flag was first unfurled 
on Armistice Day, 1923. 

It was 230 ft. long and weighed 900 lbs. 


T he J.L Hudson Co, initiated the annual 
Thanksgiving Day parade in 1925. which 
brought Santa Claus through the streets of 
Downtown Detroit. The first parade floats were 
horse-drawn milk wagons covered with papier 
rrtache, but none the less, enthralling to the 
children who came to watch. 



The first Santa Claus parade took place on 
Thanksgiving Day, 1925. 
The floats were horse-drawn milk wagons. 



W hen World War II was over, and another 12 
story addition completed the block-area struc- 
ture at the corner of Gratiot and Woodward, 
the massive edifice boasted over 40 acres of 
floor space and employed 12,000 people, 


1946: a final 12 
story addition was 
made to the cor- 
ner of Woodward 
and Gratiot, 
making Hudson's a 
full block square. 

It became evident however, in the early 
1950's with the ever increasing population shift 
to the suburbs that the company would need 
to keep on growing, This was a decision that 
would not only change the profile of the sur- 
rounding Detroit area, but the way of living 
and shopping oil across America. 

Convinced that good competition was 
healthy for business, the Webbers set about to 
plan an entire community of neighboring 
stores. Thus. Northland Center was born in 1954, 
the largest regional shopping center in the 
country. It set the standard for shopping center 
development In the United States. Three years 
later, Eastland Center was opened. The 
Webbers had the foresight to take a small, 
prospering business in 1912 and expand it until It 
was so large, not even the founder, J.L. Hudson 
would have recognized it, 




When Northland Shopping Center opened In 1954, 
It was the largest regional shopping 
complex In the country, 


Upon the premature death of their only Im- 
mediate heir, James B. Webber. Jr„ the 
Webbers looked to their uncle's namesake, 
Joseph L Hudson, Jr, for their successor, 


Joseph L. Hudson, Jr„ had also grown up in this 
retailing family. His grandfather, William Hudson 
(J.L, Hudson's younger brother) had taken over 
the management of Hudson's first out-of-town 
stores in St, Paul and Buffalo. Other stores had 
been opened In $t. Louis, Cleveland and 
Toledo, The only store that prospered was the 
Buffalo operation, which later was headed by 


William's son, J.L. Hudson, II, until it was sold In 
the 1930's. 



Joseph L, Hudson 
Jr, was named 
president of 
Hudson's in 1961, at 
the age of only 29. 



V oung Hudson cam© to Detroit as a summer- 
time trainee starting first on the receiving dock 
at Hudson's In 1950. Eleven years later In 1961 
and at the age of only 29, he succeeded 
Oscar Webber as President of the J.L Hudson 
Company, Thus began another era of growth 
for this company. More stores were added to 
the rapidly growing chain. Pontiac Mall in 1962, 
Westland In 1966 and Oakland Mall In 1966, 



Hudson's has celebrated the 4th of July 
with a big bang every year since 1959 


T hen in 1969, J.L, Hudson. Jr,, took o significant 
step toward building for the future by merging 
the store with the Dayton Corporation, to form 
a nationwide retailing organization. Hudson's 
accelerated Its expansion. In 1970 came 
Southland. Then Hudson's moved outside the 
metropolitan Detroit area, first to Flint In 1970, 
then. In 1971 to Toledo, Ohio, Next Ann Arbor, 
then Grand Rapids, Fairlane, Saginaw and 
Twelve Oaks. In 1978 came Lakeside, followed 



by Lansing In 1979. South Bend, Indiana, and 
finally, Kalamazoo in 1980, In this, Hudson's 
100th year, the company's 19th store will open 
In Fort Wayne, Indiana. 


Everyone knows the real Santa Claus resides 
at Hudson's from Thanksgiving until Christmas, 


This Is but a capsule of the growth of one 
company. It is also meant as a tribute to the 
people who hove made it possible, the 
employees, customers and suppliers who have 
together enabled the J.L Hudson Company to 
become an Integral part of the Dayton-Hudson 
Corporation, the 7th largest non-food retailer In 
the country. 


No matter how the world has changed In 
the past lOO years, we still draw from our 
founder's adherence to Integrity and high 
standards of credibility. Our company con- 
tinues to uphold his civic Interest by pledging 
5% of our pre-tax profit each year to the 
cultural and community needs of the markets 
we serve. 



The "Big Store" as It looks today. 


All of us at Hudson's eagerly look forward to 
our second hundred years, May they be as 
grand as the first, 


Designed and written by 
Hudson's Advertising Department 
In recognition of our Centennial 
Copyright, The J,L Hudson Company, 1960